Lauryn Hill is back. Not only was she released from jail after being incarcerated due to tax evasion for three months (and paying a sentence of $1 million), but also released a new single this week. The song is called “Consumerism” and is described as a “product of the space she was in while she was going through some of the challenges she has been faced with recently.” Sounds like some deep, meaningful music.
It’s easy to see the track as her response to the judge’s sentence, as she never expressed full responsibility for her crime. Questioning the system’s legitimacy, she called pop culture a “climate of hostility, false entitlement, manipulation, racial prejudice, sexism and ageism” and therefore did not pay her taxes. (Read more about the trial here: CNN.)
Hill wrote the song before going to jail and produced it during her sentence time. She gave an official comment in Fridays’s press release:
“Consumerism is part of some material I was trying to finish before I had to come in. We did our best to eek out a mix via verbal and emailed direction, thanks to the crew of surrogate ears on the other side. Letters From Exile is material written from a certain space, in a certain place. I felt the need to discuss the underlying socio-political, cultural paradigm as I saw it. I haven’t been able to watch the news too much recently, so I’m not hip on everything going on. But inspiration of this sort is a kind of news in and of itself, and often times contains an urgency that precedes what happens. I couldn’t imagine it not being relevant. Messages like these I imagine find their audience, or their audience finds them, like water seeking it’s level.”
So how does the song sound? The track is very spare and airy, and opens with syncopated percussion. It has a strong message with some angry and heavy rap on it, which reminds us of the independent woman Ms. Lauryn Hill is and always was.
“Ageism, sexism, racism, chauvinism,” spits Ms. Hill, “Capitalism running through them like the rumor business. Separatism, skepticism, modernism, atheism…” Condemning the system and society that we live in, the song certainly reveals the viewpoint of the targeted.
Lyrical backfire might not always be a great way of dealing with our citizen’s responsibility–that is, simply blaming the system for your own actions. But the track makes us think about and question how we manage and serve justice, and that is what meaningful music should do.
Before being arrested, Lauryn Hill did a few music projects and tours, but nothing that convinced us that she would be a great part of the current music scene again. Maybe that will change with her new song.
Enjoy the track below.
The single is part of her upcoming project Letters From Exile. We will keep you updated.
Article by Clara Speer